Learning Uruguay

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Marriages – scrambled or sunny side up?

Posted by urufish on May 13, 2007

This post is strongly connected to property rights…. Wasn’t sure where to post it.  Was thinking on calling it property rights III… still might.  It has important implications for you if you have real estate and heirs.  The following information may not have practical applications to all readers, but some of you (and in particular, 2 I know :-), will find this invaluable. 

In the property rights post, we talk about the laws and how they set specific minimums of division of property rights in favour of bloodline over spouses, in particular children and parents.  Here we talk about protecting a spouse by way of putting the property in his/her name.  Of course, you’re playing a game somewhat with who will leave the earthly realm first, but in some cases, this may not be an over-riding concern. 

The point of complete separation of property is somewhat simple but complicated.  Simple in the sense, it can be done.  But complicated in the sense of how it gets done.  If you’re an ex-pat, starting from scratch, you cant just put it in one spouse’s name and forget about it.  Even if the escribano lets you put it in one name, legally, it’s still jointly owned by the both of you and upon the death of either spouse, the surviving spouse’s children, parents, etc. have legal claim, the same as if it was jointly owned.  This is where scrambled or sunny side up comes in.  Which one will you (two) be?? 

Married couples living in Uruguay have the option to keep their assets in common between them or completely separate.  Dont get this confused with the northern use of separate assets or income for Income tax purposes.  This goes far beyond that.  Think divorce. 

Here’s how it works.  After you get your Uruguayan cedula, provisional or definitivo, you hire a lawyer to petition the courts to have your assets separated.    This process can take from 3 to 6 months.  During this time, it winds its way through the legal system.   Your petition is published in the official newspaper (just like divorce), and the system waits to find out if someone in Uruguay has something against you (or on you :-).  Sooner or later, you will be officially separate for purposes of assets and from that time forward, each of you own whatever is in each other’s names.  That includes real property as well as bank accounts and various and sundry financial instruments.

Simple enough?? 

Now for the tough one.  The situation that most ex-pats will find themselves in…  because MOST ex-pats want to buy property before they’re even in a position to start this process.  Well, dont despair.  There’s a way around that too.   You ‘celebrate’ a PROMESA DE COMPRAVENTA and then go and ask for separation of assets in front of the judge, afterwards, (like 6 to 8 months after).  The husband (or wife), will gave their half to the spouse and then, the final SALE is done. The only point of concern here is if somebody (vendors and/or buyers) dies in the 6 to 8 months, that will push back the final sale for some extra time, but the result will be the same.

 And now for the most important thing.   THE ABOVE ISN’T LEGAL ADVICE OR A ROAD MAP.  It’s a headsup for you to find a REPUTABLE lawyer.  Referred to you by someone you not only trust, but who has proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they know the lawyer knows what he(she) is doing.  There’s a lot of money on the table with real estate transactions and you dont want a dipstick or a crook between you and your property.   

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One Response to “Marriages – scrambled or sunny side up?”

  1. urufish said

    Brazzie.. if you read this post and after your research (you’re the best man..) you find it accurate (I sure hope so) and add your outstanding research and surgical remarks.. I’d like to put it up on Southron’s forum…
    It could be a real eye opener for some folks who just think they’ve solved the problem if they simply buy something in one of the couple’s name… of course, they wont know it doesn’t work until afer they’re beyond knowing it… but it will mess up the surviving spouse..
    Wonder if in Uruguay the escribano will even allow one partner to put it in their name… maybe that’s the ‘gatekeeper’. dunno

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